Collusion Across the Jordan

King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine
Shlaim, Avi
Date published: 
May 1988

Published to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel, this book tells the story of the unusual and highly secret relationship between Abdullah, the Hashemite ruler of Jordan, and the Zionist movement. Spanning three eventful decades, from the appointment of Abdullah as Emir in 1921 to his assassination in 1951, it focuses in particular on the clandestine diplomacy and the political and military processes which determined the fate of Palestine between 1948 and 1950, and which left the Palestinian Arabs without a homeland. Using British, American, Arabic, and Israeli sources and recently declassified official documents, Avi Shlaim proves conclusively that, as widely suspected and often accused by his fellow Arabs, King Abdullah not only colluded with the Zionists to gain control over as much of Arab Palestine as possible, but also received regular payments from the Zionists. Showing an extraordinarily shrewd feel for the human complexity of decision-making, Dr Shlaim provides a fascinating reconstruction of this collusion, its nuances, and its constant flux in the midst of accident and misunderstanding. Riveting descriptions of secret meetings between Abdullah and Golda Meir, and between Ernest Bevin and Tawfiq Abul Huda, the Jordanian Prime Minister, highlight the profound contrast between previous assumptions about this period and the clearer picture afforded by the new material uncovered by Dr Shlaim. What emerges is a fascinating account which has instructive implications for contemporary politics in the Middle East.


Winner of the W.J.M. McKenzie Prize for 1989, awarded by the Political Studies Association